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The goal of an unpaid internship is to lead to a job, right? So why would you possibly be entertaining the idea of turning down a paid position to keep your internship? It doesn't make much sense, on the surface, but it turns out that there are plenty of valid reasons to chase the internship and turn down the paid position and none of those reasons are 'because we hate money.'
The first thing that you must analyze before making a decision is what the job vs. internship will offer you in the future. If you have a law degree, for example, would you turn down an exciting internship at one of the best firms in the country to become a legal copywriter in the middle of Nowhere, Illinois? Probably not. The two positions are all about perception. In the long run you will most likely get more out of the unpaid internship than the alternative.
The second thing you must decide is: does this job offer to keep me in my field? Many times you will get a degree and then, ultimately, accept a job in an unrelated field--especially in the economy we are currently experiencing. So if you want to stay in your field perhaps you should keep chasing the unpaid internship and hope that it leads you to where your skill set can be utilized.
As you can see there are no hard and fast rules for taking a paid job over an internship even though, on the surface, most folks would take the steady paycheck. In the end the decision comes down to your goals and what you are prepared to sacrifice in the present to get you to where you want to be.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|